BBC Three: Trust digesting over 23,000 consultation responses

The BBC Trust has confirmed it received over 23,000 responses to the recent public consultation about the BBC's plans to move BBC Three online, extend CBBC by two hours and launch a 24 hour BBC One+1 service available on Freeview HD receivers.

Minutes from the Trust's February meeting revealed the Trust's plans in the coming months. It is reviewing the consultation responses alongside results from a Public Value Assessment and a Market Impact Assessment to be received from Ofcom.

It will use this data to reach a provisional conclusion on the proposals, which will be "subject to a second period of public consultation."

The news comes as new research shows a sharp drop in audiences for BBC Three in the first three months of the year. The drop follows the cancellation of some series, the transfer of some first-run shows to BBC Two and an overall increase in the number of repeats. Critics say the BBC Executive is deliberately "dismantling" the channel ahead of the BBC Trust's final verdict.

Many responses to the consultation referred to the plight of the popular animated series Family Guy which is shown late at night on BBC Three. At the time of the consultation, the BBC refused to specifically say what would happen to the show.After the consultation ended,  it confirmed the show would stay on the BBC until 2017. Several weeks later ITV acquired the rights for all  new series from autumn, leading the BBC to confirm it would only show repeats from the autumn. Some respondents have said the Family Guy situation has made a mockery of the consultation process, although others have felt the fate of Family Guy has overshadowed other issues raised by the consultation.

RECAP: The proposals in brief:

  • BBC Three to move online on a reduced budget, with more short videos and social media content
  • Some of BBC Three's budget to be used to prop up BBC One drama budget
  • CBBC to be extended to 9pm
  • BBC One+1 to launch as a 24/7 standard definition service initially only available on Freeview HD and Freeview Play receivers, as well as on cable and satellite. BBC One+1 would take BBC Three's old channel number on cable and satellite, but not on Freeview where local TV is likely to benefit from a promotion up the channel list.
  • More shows would be available to watch on the iPlayer before they are shown on BBC One or BBC Two.
  • Viewers want to know what will happen to Eurovision Semi Final coverage, Glastonbury live coverage and coverage of sports such as Athletics which have been shown on BBC Three (HD) until now.

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  1. The picture quality on iPlayer even in HD remains visibly poorer than Freeview HD, so why would I choose to watch first on iPlayer when I can wait for a better viewing experience? Also iPlayer audio is stereo only, Freeview HD gives me 5.1 sound for some programmes. And finally many people's broadband just isn't up to the job. Broadcast TV will remain the better quality experience for quite some time.

  2. When even think about a plus 1 station, when parts of the country can't get BBC4 in HD on Freeview! Surely making sure BBC4 HD is available, is more important than any plus one channel.

  3. This is probably actually impossible, if not illegal, but could the BBC sell off their part of the spectrum for however many countless Billions, and invest it in online distribution? The mobile networks will have more capacity (having bought the space from BBC) and the BBC will have a large pile of money to spend on UK programming.

    On another point, is the proposal that BBC Three goes 'on-demand' only, or continue with a live channel stream, but online only?

    1. And what would happen to the half of the population who's broadband is too slow to watch TV in quality as good as broadcast? Or the 5% like my Aunt who are so flummoxed by technology that they will never have internet? My Aunt can't even cope with a mobile phone, and she's likely to live another 10 to 15 years given her age.

      Not everyone is an internet savvy person with fibre or cable connection.

    2. Thats what I meant by "more capacity" although badly worded - invest in getting fibre / superfast broadband to 100% of the country.

      The channels could still be broadcast, like now, but delivered via the internet eg BT TV / YouView. There is no difference in how you watch, but its not 'over the air'. That also allows everyone the option of watching on-demand, direct from the epg.

    3. Maybe technically feasible, but doesn't solve the problem of the technically inept like my aunt being unable to get it to work. I get phone calls from her because she's pressed the wrong button on the TV and she can't get her picture back (usually she's selected a different AV input, but not always).